Best New Club in Broward 2005 | Gryphon | Nightlife | South Florida
Almost as new as the year itself, Gryphon nightclub has redirected late-night, Miami-bound traffic to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The large dance club with a sunken dance floor and comfortable seating all around offers an environment where you can take in the company of the upbeat, sassy crowd that's drawn by resident DJs who include Friday night's Ivano Bellini and Southside and Saturday night's nextgeneration. Miami promotion company Aqua Booty's monthly mix-in of DJs like Osunlade and Neil Aline sharpens the edge. Kitschily clad dancers on blocks around the floor lead partiers in all the right moves. Between paying the cover and covering your bar tab, one night of partying can easily cost $100. For big spenders, there's the VIP room with large, double-sided couches that can accommodate your whole party. This select room is Broward's hottest place to see and be seen.
The Village Pump has one hell of a story. Opened in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in 1949, 15 years before the Commercial Boulevard bridge connected the barrier island to the mainland, the pub built a reputation as a place where locals and tourists alike could sit back, drink a beer, and converse like neighbors. Even after a half-century of development, the Village Pump is in many ways the same: a laid-back bar with good service, friendly patrons, and reasonably priced pints (about $4 each). What's more, you can still hear the gentle crashing of the Atlantic Ocean, just as you could in 1949. The pub recently opened a stylish restaurant next door, the Village Grille, but thankfully, the Village Pump remains as relaxing and enticing as ever.
Listen up, rage-aholics. You can guzzle a sixer of Red Bull and go flail your woman across a disco dance floor like every other trendoid or you can break away from the pack and show some class. Here's the trick: ballroom dancing. Slow down, smooth out, show a mastery of this stuff and you'll wow her socks off (and potentially other garments as well). If you're really looking to slow-dance, you have to go where the slow folks go. Since 1992, the only rule for Tuesdays at the theater is that "everybody dances." So reads the website for the Hollywood Bandshell, where every Tuesday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., you can get jiggy to vintage dance music. The year-round Dancing in the Moonlight series features big band and swing groups like Bobby Kent and the Esquires and the Swell Tones, along with occasional salsa, merengue, and cha cha. The open-air, beachside bandshell is the only venue of its kind in Broward. And if you've never been swung under the stars, you have no idea how moving so slow can get your pulse beating so fast.
Best Place for a Sidecar of Blues Bamboo Room

It's no easy feat for a concert venue to come across as sophisticated and downhome at the same time, but Lake Worth's Bamboo Room pulls off the combination with classic Florida charm. Over the past six years, the Bamboo Room has established itself as one of the most professional and welcoming rooms in the Southland -- an opinion shared by patrons and musicians alike. Along with its stellar roster of entertainment -- which goes way beyond standard blues to funk, experimental, acoustic, and folk -- the Bamboo has one of the most extensive beer and liquor selections in the county. Check out the towering collection of classic martini shakers behind the bar -- there's probably one for each of the 100 cocktails on the bar menu. Drink specials change weekly. Order a cocktail from the friendly wait staff, sit back, and appreciate the work owner Russell Hibbard has put into his bamboo-clad baby. If the blues is a cozy blanket, the Bamboo Room is the comfy bed it keeps warm.

As long as Hollywood doesn't roll back the hours of operation for downtown clubs, house band Exito will continue to bring in feverishly dancing crowds each and every night until 4 a.m. And we're talking crowds as in crowded -- unlike Zombie, the space's former occupant, Spice is anything but comatose. Especially on weekends, when the room threatens to ignite turbo-thrusters and blast off into outer space. Owner Artie Batista has decorated the, uh, resto-lounge with a dimly lighted, romantic flair that could get the place mistaken for the set of a lingerie or perfume commercial. The VIP lounge is pretty unnecessary (this ain't South Beach), though it's more affordable than its hipper counterparts. But you don't need to be a VIP to grab a mojito and stare at the delectable assortment of gorgeous Latina hotties in flattering eveningwear. After all, everyone else is doing it.
Though Miami practically dictates the electronic scene with labels like Schematic and acts like Phoenicia and Push Button Objects, Fort Lauderdale now has a more diversified imprint to level the playing field. Audio Thrift Shop Records, the brainchild of Broward native Jasper Delaini, echoes the eclectic tastes and leftfield impetus of its founder. A pop culture-fed b-boy indebted to Sonic Youth as much as Stetasonic, the 24-year-old Delaini has put together a roster that veers from the alt hip-hop of his own Secondhand Outfit to Hoor Paar Kraat, artist Anthony Mangicapra's noise collage project. With recent signings like punk stylists the Leftoverz, along with the new showcase night Rock Bottom at the Fort Lauderdale Saloon, Audio Thrift Shop continues to indulge Delaini's freeform ways while proving his artistic aptitude. Keep up the dirty work, Jasper.
So the WASPY fastidiousness of Palm Beach doesn't exactly add up to a Wonderland for your down-the-rabbit-hole psychedelic adventures. That just makes the Peace Tree all the trippier. Situated behind the Sea Gull Cottage -- Palm Beach's oldest house, built in 1886 -- just south of the Flagler Museum, the Peace Tree stretches to 50 feet overhead, shading the Lake Trail and the nearby shores of the Intracoastal. One look at the funky foliage will send herbally stimulated heads spinning: bulbous, sinewy, and surreally shaped, it looks as if it might've dropped from a passing meteor and landed where it stands with a gushy splat. Or it could've erupted from the earth like a pulpy volcano, freezing in this alien-tentacled formation over the course of a zillion years. Either way, the tree is really big and very, very weird. (For the record, it's called a kapok tree, and it's at least 115 years old.) Take a seat on the bench beneath its undulating branches, gaze out over the water, make sure no PBPD are nearby, and get peaceful. And pass that shit this way, bro.
You gotta love a bar that has a "Banshee Room." Brogue's not only has one but uses it to host private parties as well as community functions like mayoral debates. Brogue's is the place you go, sunburnt and happy, on the way back from the beach to kill a drunken afternoon. It's the place you go because your friend's band is playing its third gig ever in the window. It's the place you hit when you crave a hearty shepherd's pie or just want to meet your buddies, sit at an outside table, and shoot the breeze on a balmy night. The clean, high-ceilinged, wood-paneled drinking establishment starts showing international soccer games at 9:30 a.m. Sundays and serves a mean pint ($4 for a Guinness before 7 p.m., $5.25 after) any time. There's no cover and no need to explain how to get here -- just look for the crowd spilling out onto Lake Worth's main drag.
Posh Lounge is a full-service liquor and wine bar that sits in the lobby of the Waverly building. The Charlie Chaplin Martini, like some of its other signature cocktails, is named after the dog of one of the residents. The tall glass holds part Stoli Razberri vodka, part Godiva White, and part Chambord, with a splash of cream. The light-pink concoction looks like a thin milkshake. But beware. It clouds your senses with each delicate sip. This heady sensation whets the appetite for fun, which could lead you to puff a hookah at a table near the bar or relax outdoors, where the barkeeps sometimes light a fire. Chaplin costs $13.
You need a place where everybody knows your name... and they say it in an endearing British accent. This cozy pub draws a random crowd of old Brits, indie rockers, surfers, and dirty athletes who just finished playing rugby. Got an obscure beer you love? The friendly staff will order it for ya. (They sell only one domestic -- a $2 Imperial; imports cost $3.85 for a 20-ounce draft.) Got a CD you want to hear? They'll put it on. Got a dog? He can come with you and hang at the outside table. Marty Crompton, the landlady (that's a female-connotated term for proprietor) chose the Lion & Eagle as mascots to represent the U.K. and the U.S. Last month, she was inviting everybody she talked to during a road trip to Cape Canaveral to watch the space shuttle launch to visit the Lion & Eagle and celebrate her birthday. She is careful to point out, "It's not a bar. It's a pub. That's an abbreviation for public house -- and I'm opening my house to you."

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